EPS – AZ Electronic Power source - az www.EPS-AZ.com 1507 W Loughlin Drive Chandler, AZ 85224 1847 VM 480 821.1946 FAX 413 208.6859 INTERVIEW HELP SHEET Helpful Interviewing Tips The following are some interviewing tips we strongly suggest you read, review and use prior to interviewing with company hiring officials. These tips may be beneficial in both phone and in-plant interviewing! We have found that people who practice basic interviewing questions have a higher rate of success in receiving job offers. Prior preparation will enable you to be confident, overcome interviewing inexperience, and sell yourself and your qualifications. INTERVIEWING SUCCESSFULLY IS AN ART!! Being properly prepared before an interview, rather than approaching it without any anticipated responses, will be a good investment of your time and effort. Here are a few helpful hints to increase your chances of a company making you a job offer: 1. Learn something about the company before you interview. (Telephone or on-site). 2. Make a good first impression - present yourself with confidence and assurance . . giving precise answers to their questions. Answer with thought, directness and enthusiasm – but remember KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). 3. Look company officials straight in the eye when talking to them. 4. Dress properly. Where applicable a conservative suit, white shirt, contrasting tie and shined shoes are in order. Women should wear minimal make-up, pumps and neutral colored hose. 5. Review how you'll present yourself and emphasize those aspects of your background that will be of value to the company. 6. Review how you will package and present the negative aspects of your background in a positive way. 7. Never complain about your present or previous employer. 8. Possible reasons for leaving a past/present employer: ". . . for more opportunity and advancement." ". . . for greater earning potential." ". . . for an opportunity to advance into management." ". . . for increased technical challenge." ". . . for employment stability." Page 2 9. Try to find out what the next step is, and when you can expect to hear from the company. 10. If you like the job opportunity, be sure and ask for it. Possible ways of expressing interest may be: "I'm very interested in the job . . when can I expect to hear from you?" "This opportunity is what I've been looking for . . when can I start?" 11. Keep your earning requirements reasonable. Remember that this potential employer should not be held responsible for your present employers low pay scale, or low salary increases. 12. Drop a short note to the company thanking them for the interview - perhaps to the Hiring Official with "cc" to HR and/or others that were involved in the interview process. Personal individual notes would sometimes be in order . . but NOT always necessary. An e-mail “thank you” is certainly acceptable. SELF-CONFIDENCE . . . If you appear sure of yourself and can project your assurance to others, you will impress the interviewer. MATURITY . . . Emotionally mature applicants are not hostile, defensive or suspicious. They show no self-pity and are willing to discuss their weaknesses as well as their strengths. SENSE OF HUMOR . . . the more likable applicant can look at the lighter side of things, yet tell no off-color stories nor laugh raucously during the interview - "moderation in all things". FLUENCY OF EXPRESSION . . . Clear, concise and reasonably rapid responses to questions are helpful. You can't successfully sell yourself with mumbles, monotones, "ers" and "uhs". WARMTH . . . An intangible but very important personal trait. The "cold fish" generally shares the same fate as the "deadpan". THE INTERVIEWERS QUESTIONS . . . Most interviews take the form of questions and answers, although some Interviewers prefer to let you just talk for yourself. In either case, you will be expected to provide the same information. Some examples of questions you can expect, and must prepare for are: What were your grades in high school/college? What were your best subjects in school? What was your GPA (Major/overall)? Tell me about your extracurricular activities? What positions of leadership did you hold? (Civic/Church/School) How did you finance you education? Tell me about your summer jobs? What assignments did you have in the service? What rank did you attain? What was your Senior Project? What courses "excited" you? Page 3 What courses did you find interesting? What sort of work do you see yourself doing in 3 to 5 to 10 years? What was the nature of your job / duties / responsibilities? Tell me about a typical day on your job? To whom do you report (title)? How is your supervisor to work for? * What are his strengths? Weaknesses? What special skills did you acquire? What special accomplishments did you achieve? How have you saved money/time for past employers? What do you especially like about your job? Dislike? Why do you want to leave (or did you leave) this job? All applicants are likely to be asked some personal questions on their finances, hobbies, personal and family plans, and special problems/needs you or you family may have. Always strive to project eagerness and interest, be a conversationalist by being yourself. SELLING SUGGESTIONS: Answer factual questions as specifically as possible - emphasize accomplishments. For example: - Tell me about your experience in the Credit Department? Poor response - "I checked credit references and wrote up credit reports." Better response - "I investigated the credit standing of customers by studying credit agency reports, and checking banks and other vendors. During the first year that I had this job the bad debt ratio on new customers dropped by 40%." * Role-playing with spouse, friends or family members can be very helpful. Most Job Hunters make two devastating mistakes when they are being questioned in an interview: 1. They fail to LISTEN TO THE QUESTION. They then proceed to annoy the Interviewer either by answering a question that wasn't asked, or by giving out a lot of superfluous information. Leave that to the politicians - be direct and precise . . and listen, carefully! 2. More importantly, they attempt to answer questions with virtually NO PREPARATION. Even the glibbest person on earth, even the most skilled debater can not answer questions off the cuff without damaging his/her chances of success. The Question Answering Rule says - "Answer every question in terms of your background or qualifications, or in terms of the job to be filled." Be specific and emphatic. Prepare for tough questions. Anticipate what they will be. They will focus on reasons for leaving, quality of performance and overall job function and personality. Be brief but factual. Write out your answers . . . refine them and commit them to memory. Page 4 21 QUESTIONS . . . and answers to help master even the most grueling employment interview What follows are a number of questions that various surveys have indicated are most often asked, no matter the job classification. Study them carefully, develop strong responses, and feel comfortable with them. Maintain modesty while, at the same time, being sure to bring your strong points out. Remember - if you're honest, you will only have to live up to the truth! If you present yourself in a self-confident but honest light, your candidacy will receive prime consideration. 1. "WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?" Because you have done your homework on the company, you KNOW exactly why you want to work here. All you must do is organize your own personal reasons into several short, hard-hitting sentences: - "You make the best product on the market today." - "Your management is farsighted enough to reinvest the company's profits so that soon you will be the leader in our industry." - "You are on the leading edge of technology and that's where I want to be." 2. "TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF?" or "WHY SHOULD I HIRE YOU?" The Interviewer does not want a lengthy regurgitation of your resume. He or she is not yet asking for a barrage of data. The Interviewer is interested in testing your poise and confidence. Give them a SHORT, GENERALIZED SUMMARY. Pre-plan a five to ten minute answer describing your education and then each job in terms of accomplishments or performance indicators. Be on target by mentioning the responsibilities that have direct emphasis on the position opening(s) for which you are interviewing. Close with something like: - "I have the qualifications to do the job that has to be done, and my track record proves it." - "I know that this is the job for me and that I will be successful.” - "I am sure you want to hire the best person for the position, and I believe that I am that person." 3. "WHAT INTERESTS YOU MOST ABOUT THIS POSITION?" Give a truthful one or two word answer like: - "The future" - "The challenge" - "The competitiveness" This type of response will force the Interviewer to ask you to explain, giving you yet another opportunity to demonstrate your profound knowledge of the company, its products, technology, etc. 4. "WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOSS'S JOB?" By all means, "YES!". Ambitious, hungry people are always preferred over those willing to settle for a safe routine. If you sense such a direct answer threatens your interviewer's security, you might add "when I'm judged qualified" or "should an opening develop in several years". Page 5 5. "ARE YOU WILLING TO GO WHERE THE COMPANY SENDS YOU?" Obviously, this is being asked because they may intend to ship you off - either now or later. If you answer "no", you will, most probably, not be hired. If you answer "yes", understand that, once you are a trusted and valued employee, you may be able to exert the necessary leverage to avoid a possible “less desirable” out-of-town assignment. 6. "WHAT KIND OF DECISIONS ARE MOST DIFFICULT FOR YOU?" Be human and admit that not everything comes easily. Nevertheless, be careful what you do admit. "I find it difficult to decide which of two good workers must be let go." "It is difficult for me to tell a client that he/she is running his/her business badly." 7. "HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOU PROGRESS TO DATE?" Never apologize for yourself. "I think I've done well, but I need new challenges and opportunities." This is a good time to drop hero stories. "No one else in my company has advanced as fast as I have" or "I think you'd agree that I've accomplished quite a bit in the last five years". 8. "HOW LONG WILL YOU STAY WITH US." A reasonable response might be "as long as I continue to learn and grow in my field". 9. "HAVE YOU DONE THE BEST WORK YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING?" This is best answered with a degree of self-effacement: - "I would be lying to you if I told you I was perfect, but I have tackled every assignment with all my energy and talents" - "I'm sure there were times when I could have worked harder or longer, but, over the years, I've tried to do my best, and I believe I have succeeded". 10. "WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?" They are not looking for your personal short-term goals! You must know exactly what can and cannot be achieved by the ideal candidate in your shoes. Too many Job Hunters butcher this question because they have not done their homework and have no idea where their career potential with this company can lead them. If you see yourself at another company, or in another department of the company with whom you are interviewing, tread lightly. You can't afford to tell your Interviewer that you believe you'll be more successful than he/she will be. 11. "WHAT TRAINING/QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR THIS JOB?" Deliver a short, fact filled summary of the most important (2 or 3) qualifications you have that directly apply to the position for which you are applying. "I have a background in accounting, I've demonstrated proven sales skills and I'm capable of handling several projects simultaneously". You may also draw on your "pre-planned" presentation (See Question #2). If possible, draw “your qualifications” from the company’s own job description. Page 6 12. "WHY DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE JOBS?" This could be one of the Interviewers first questions. Be sure you are ready to answer it satisfactorily. If you are currently in a dead-end job, locked out of advancement potential, explain this. The interviewer will understand. If your job has become routine, void of learning experience, they will also accept that. If you feel your present employer is losing ground to competition, through no fault of your own, he or she will accept that too. However, if you say that your salary is to low it becomes suspicious. If you say you hate your boss, the interviewer will wonder if you'd soon be hating him or her. If you say you are bored, he or she will suspect that you are just another job-hopper. Use the "benefits" they are offering as the "reasons" you want to leave - after all you are looking for something you don't have now . . . and they are offering it to you! Explain to them why you want to join their firm . . not why you want to leave your current employer. 13. "WHY DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR FIELD OF WORK?" This is a tough one. It is kind of like `changing horses in the middle of the stream'. Before you interview, spend one hour and organize these reasons into a written statement. Memorize this explanation and be prepared to deliver it because you will definitely be asked. Your explanation should include: a) How your previous work experience will contribute to your new career path. b) What excites you most about this new field. c) How you came to make this career change decision. 14. "WHY WERE YOU OUT OF WORK FOR SO LONG?" If there is a gap in your resume, you must be prepared to explain what you were doing in that period. Until you have satisfied the interviewers curiosity you will not even be considered for their employment opportunity. If you were fired, and have spent the last year looking for a job without success, you will understand an employer's reluctance to hire you. If, on the other hand, you explain what you have learned or accomplished during this hiatus, he or she will warm to your candidacy. For example: - "I have taken several courses to strengthen my skills in . . ." - "I used this period to reexamine my goals and have reached this conclusion . . .". . . . . . the Interviewer must be given a positive explanation. 15. "WHY HAVE YOU CHANGED JOBS SO FREQUENTLY?" This question is crucial. In fact, an unsatisfactory answer to this one is among the top reasons for Candidates failing to get jobs they want. You must convince your Interviewer that your "job-hopping days" are over. If you feel you made a mistake leaving previous jobs tell him or her so. At the same time, remind the Interviewer that your job performance was never in question. They will appreciate your candor. If something in your personal or business life has recently changed and would affect your stability in the future, come right out with the facts. They'll be anxious to hear. Never be afraid to tell them that you left because company was failing, or closed down. Page 7 16. "HAVE YOU EVER HIRED OR FIRED ANYONE?" You are being asked this question for two important reasons. First, to determine whether you are capable of performing these duties and, second, to determine if the previous experience you have described was at a high enough level to include hiring/firing responsibilities. If you have had no experience in hiring/firing, you must make a considerable effort to convince the Interviewer that you are capable of performing in this area. You may also ask "Does this opportunity hold the responsibility for hiring and firing?" before you answer. 17. "HOW HAVE YOU HELPED SALES / PROFITS / COST REDUCTIONS?" Have your hero stories ready, and be willing to prove that you have made significant contributions in one or more of these basic areas. Again, keep you explanation short, and try to include specific dollar amounts. Factual answers for factual questions! 18. "WHY AREN'T YOU EARNING MORE AT YOUR AGE?" This question, if asked unexpectedly, can frighten the wits out of you. Remember that all things are relative and, if you feel the question is not really applicable, you may simply respond by saying, "In my area of the country, and with my experience, my salary is considered quite favorable". Alternatively, if the question has merit, you may respond with something like: - "I would be lying to you if I told you I was perfect, but I have tackled every assignment with all my energy and talents" - "I have been willing to sacrifice short-term earnings because I felt that I was gaining valuable experience." - "I have been reluctant to gain a reputation as a job-hopper, preferring, instead, to build my career on solid, long-term achievement." 19. "HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU SUPERVISED?" Similar to the "hired and fired" question, the interviewer is trying to determine the depth of your experience. Be careful not to exaggerate. 20. "WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR YOUR SUCCESS?" It is best to keep this answer very general and short, thus permitting the Interviewer to probe more deeply if he/she wishes. Offer a short list of positive character traits that describe you. - "I like to work hard." - "I get along with all kinds of people and I know how to listen.” - "I pay close attention to details, I know how to watch costs and I can keep difficult customers smiling.” 21. "WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE FOR THIS JOB?" See questions 2 and 11. Summarize four or five key areas of experience that you can bring to your new job. Specifically demonstrate to the Interviewer how each one helps solve his/her problems. For example, "My experience in new-product introductions will be very helpful to your entire marketing effort" or "My industrial design background will strengthen your sales-force capability in dealing with large clients". Again - be specific and emphatic. Page 8 NOTE: You must make each response your own. Using "our words", if you do not normally communicate in this manner, will seem strange to the hiring official, and it will be uncomfortable for you. It will cause a concern as to "what is real" and "what is canned"? The most important preparation is your own self-confidence. You must feel comfortable with everything you say and do . . . that you are being yourself and representing your capabilities, personality and individuality in an honest light. ASKING QUESTION . . . employers like to be interviewed too! Have a list . . . something you prepared in advance of the interview . . . things you need to know in order to make an informed decision about this opportunity. Jot them down, a yellow legal pad, or even your personal day planner would be appropriate. As the interview progresses don't be afraid to jot down additional notes . . . either as answers to questions you have already postulated or notes that will help you to remember something you feel you need clarification on later. It's always better to "save it for the end" of the interview rather than interrupting. Of course, at any time during the interview, should the Interviewer ask if you have any questions, it would be appropriate to ask. Make them job related but don't "cross-examine" Ask questions that require an explanation You may ask questions relating to: a) The job opportunity b) The company (it's people / products / locations) c) Importance of the job for which you are interviewing d) The particular responsibilities/functions/authority of the position Ask about the person who previously held this position a) How did they perform their duties b) Where are they today c) Ask questions to try and determine the "type" of person they are looking for d) How did they perform their duties * AVOID QUESTIONS ABOUT Salary Fringe benefits Relocation assistance Vacations Retirement . . . once you determine you would be interested in the position, and it is offered to you, there will be plenty of time for clarification in these areas. WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I RECEIVE AN OFFER? When you receive an offer from a company, you sometime tend to get emotional. And why not! Life is emotional. However, emotion short circuits judgment, logic and decision-making processes . . . and those are the skills we now must rely on. You may have a hard time determining what you should or should not do in accepting an offer. The following are some points you will find beneficial in your decision making process. We do not like to influence your choice - but, rather, are available to you as a sounding board, a specialist. Page 9 We can help best by answering questions, supplying you with information and helping to give you a better over-all picture of the marketplace. It is time, once again, to take off your "Engineers hat" and put on your "Businessman's hat". Now you have to account to the main person - yourself! 1. Once you have an offer from a potential new employer, answer either positive (+) or negative (-) or yes/no to the following questions. To validate your choice you need to answer the questions for both your present employer as well as for the company that has made you an offer. Once completed, add the total plus's and minus's (yes's/no's) to tell you which direction you should be leaning. - Do you like the nature of your work? - Can you do the job? - Does the job offer technical challenges? - Is the company and position stable? - Is the working relationship between you and your boss good? - Is the company paying/offering you a fair wage? - Does the position offer you a challenge for future growth, salary increases, etc.? - Is the location appropriate? - Is the philosophy of the company agreeable with yours? It is important to remember we are evaluating/comparing your present to your possible future job. We are not trying to decide if we should accept the offer . . . not yet! 2. Use a “Ben Franklin list”. Draw a line down the middle of a legal pad. Then list, and number, all of the plus's and minus's concerning the job. Positives go on one side and negatives on the other . . . it could be looked at as a scale . . . the side with the highest number of items will indicate, logically and unemotionally, the decision that should be made. It is important to note here that this method gives no special treatment to any plus or negative . . . they are all considered equal in value. 3. A Salary Curve Graph could help you to determine if it is the right time to move "on to greener pastures" or not. S 80 A - L 70 A - R 60 Y - 50 Yrs of Exp 0 . . . . . . .1 . . . . . . . 5 . . . . . . .10 . . . . . . .15 . . . . . . .20 Page 10 Let's say you've been working with the same company for the last five (Plot the annual salary in thousands of dollars above the 1 and the 5) years and you are not receiving what you feel you are worth. You don't see a real "promotion" in the near future or you're not being challenged. Now is the time for a job change. If you were to receive an increase of 10% at a new job, you can gauge, using the same growth rate as your present job, (a line parallel to the one drawn between your salary above the 1 and salary above the 5). Draw a line between a point 10% higher than your present salary (above 5) and where you will be in 10 years. Your higher salary curve would be with your new position, rather than an almost "flat" rate from years 5 to 10. You must also realize that your % potential increase with your new employer will be higher during your first 3-5 years of employment with them . . . putting you, hopefully, at an even higher salary level. (Salary Compression: The point at which you begin to receive salary reviews that are not keeping up with inflation and/or “demand” for talent.) Point of fact – A typical new college hire will be making less after three (3) years of working for the same employer as his newly hired newly graduated counterpart. 4. If you have a problem with your decision, concerning the acceptance/rejection of the offer, approach a “disinterested third party". We would like to think that we can fill this function and, to the best of our ability, we will. However, we have a professional stake in your selection. . not to mention a financial investment. We will always do our best to be non-biased. However, you may wish to approach a close friend, fellow worker, or a relative (mother / father / brother / sister) or even a total stranger with "What would you do if. . . . ?" Be sure to give them all the pro's and con's as you see them so far as your career is concerned. We want you to be happy about your decision . . . we never want you to say "I wonder what would have happened if . . ? ". NEVER put yourself in that position! 5. What if I've decided I want to accept the new opportunity, but I'm afraid of how my boss will react when I turn in my two-week notice? That’s understandable . . we are all creatures of habit and, even when we know that what we are about to do is right, we may still have a tendency to be nervous . . get cold feet . . experience pangs of guilt. A letter of resignation, wherein you thank those concerned for all you have learned and how you have progressed, accompanied with a short paragraph about a "new career opportunity that will be of enormous benefit" to you and your family, perhaps making reference to "technical challenges" and "growth opportunity", will solve all of your concerns. Your present employer, if they are truly interested in you as an individual, will realize that you have outgrown their ability to help you progress, and that you harbor no ill feelings. They will wish you their best. Once you tender your resignation the first time . . . tell your boss you are leaving . . get it over with, you won't feel any agonizing decision pains like this again. Remember . . . we have to look out for your best interests . . no one else will! COUNTER OFFERS . . . what they are and what you need to know about them After you have accepted an offer from a new employer and, on giving your notice to your present company, a counter offer is made, you should consider the following: 1. Ask yourself if you were worth "X" dollars yesterday, why are they suddenly willing to pay you "X+" dollars today when you were not anticipating a raise for some time? 2. Consider the fact that your present employer may be merely "buying time" until he can locate a replacement. Even an annual raise of $3,000 would only cost them $500 if it takes them as long as 60 days to find your replacement. 3. Is just more money going to change everything in your present job? We know money is a motivation, we have discussed that, but it's not the motivation! Consider the new opportunity you will be giving up. What made it look so favorable when you accepted? Page 11 4. The company will probably feel as though they have been “BLACKMAILED", or had "a gun held to their head" when they gave you a raise after you announced your decision to leave. 5. Realize you are now a marked man. The possibility of promotion is extremely limited for someone who has "given notice". The company is vulnerable and they now know it! They will not risk giving more responsibility to someone who was previously committed to move on. 6. When economic slow-downs occur, you are one of the first to go. You indicated your intention to do so once before. It is only natural that your position will be eliminated in a slack period. 7. You should know that statistics complied by the National Employment Association confirm the fact that "over 85% of those people who elect to accept a counter offer are no longer with their company six month later”. Our personal experience has been a more conservative 75% . . . but even that is 3 out of 4. 8. Carefully review all the reasons you wanted to make a change in the first place. Does the counter offer really offset these reasons? 9. If you do intend to seriously consider a counter offer be sure you ask your present employer to confirm all details of said offer in writing. We would expect no less from them than we should from any other potential "new” employer. 10. Call our office and discuss the ramifications of re-making your decision, and how it will impact on future job opportunities. We would also like to discuss the specifics of the "counter-offer". Remember that we are on your side and want only what is best for your long-term career development. If possible "renegotiations" of your new opportunity are in order, we will assist you in preparation for them. Remember - we change jobs vicariously more times in a year than you will in your entire career! . . . . . good luck! Garry Moore EPS-AZ Garry@eps-az.com VM 480 821-1946 . . . . be honest in your dealings with your fellow man . . . .
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